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Harriet Frank Jr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harriet Frank Jr.
Harriet Frank Jr Amazing 5306.jpg
Frank as depicted in Amazing Stories in 1953
Harriet Goldstein

(1923-03-02)March 2, 1923
DiedJanuary 28, 2020(2020-01-28) (aged 96)
Other namesJames P. Bonner
Harriet Frank
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, producer
Years active1947–1990
(m. 1946; died 2010)

Harriet Frank Jr. (born Harriet Goldstein; March 2, 1923 – January 28, 2020) was an American screenwriter and producer. Working with her husband Irving Ravetch, Frank received many awards during her career, including the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the Writers Guild of America Award, and several nominations.

Frank began her writing career after World War II, under Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's young writer's training program, where she first met her future husband. She married Ravetch in 1946 but worked independently for ten years, finally collaborating with him in 1957, a relationship that continued for the remainder of her career. During 33 years of collaboration, Frank and Ravetch created the screenplays for a variety of films, mainly adaptations of the works of American authors.

Frank and Ravetch maintained a close working relationship with director Martin Ritt, collaborating with him on eight film projects. After initially being suggested by Ravetch to direct The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Ritt eventually drew the couple out of inactivity on three occasions, hiring them to write the screenplays for Norma Rae (1979), Murphy's Romance (1985) and Stanley & Iris (1990). The last was both the last film directed by Ritt (who died later that year) and the last screenplay by Frank and Ravetch.

Frank has a primary focus in the memoir The Mighty Franks: A Memoir (2017),[1] written by her nephew Michael Frank, an essayist and short-story writer.

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Life and career

Early life

An old man, dressed smartly in a suit and tie, rests his left arm on the arm of a chair. Close behind him is a simple brick wall.
Frank and Ravetch adapted many of the novels by William Faulkner (pictured) for film. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten

Harriet Frank Jr. was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of Edith Frances (Bergman) and Sam Goldstein, a shoe store owner.[2] Her mother changed the family name to Frank, and her own name to Harriet, making herself Harriet, Sr. and her daughter Harriet, Jr.[3] In 1939, she relocated with her family to Los Angeles, where her mother worked as a Hollywood story editor;[4] her father attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) at the same time as Irving Ravetch, her future husband.[2] Having graduated at different times from UCLA, the two met in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer young writers' training program after World War II.[5][6]

The couple married in 1946, but worked independently for over 10 years, with Frank writing for projects such as A Really Important Person (short, 1947), Whiplash (1948) and Run for Cover (1955).[5][6] The couple first collaborated on the script of an adaptation of William Faulkner's novel The Hamlet, released as The Long, Hot Summer (1958), but Frank later said "in the end, we created mostly new material, so it wasn't really a true adaptation".[6]


Martin Ritt, having directed The Long, Hot Summer on suggestion by Ravetch, then directed the couple's next collaboration The Sound and the Fury (1959), again an adaptation of a William Faulkner novel.[6] Frank and Ravetch collaborated on two films released in 1960, Home from the Hill, an adaptation of the novel of the same name, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, an adaptation of a Tony award-winning play.[5]

Frank and Ravetch reunited with Martin Ritt to write the screenplay for Hud (1963),[5] adapted from the novel Horseman, Pass By (1961) by Larry McMurtry.[7][8] The film received positive reviews by the critics, with the couple sharing a New York Film Critics Circle Award for "Best Screenplay" and a Writers Guild of America Award (WGA Award) for Best Written American Drama.[9][10] They were nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.[11]

Frank worked alongside her husband and Ritt on Hombre (1967), a Revisionist Western based on the novel of the same name.[12] The next year, Frank and Ravetch wrote the screenplay for House of Cards (1968, released in the U.S. the following year and directed by John Guillermin. For House of Cards, Frank was credited, together with her husband, under the pen name of James P. Bonner.[13] Frank and Ravetch returned to the works of William Faulkner, writing the screenplay for a film adaptation of his last novel The Reivers (1969).[5]

Frank and Ravetch wrote the screenplay for The Cowboys (1972), based on the novel of the same name, and The Carey Treatment (also 1972), based on the novel A Case of Need by Michael Crichton.[14] For the latter, the couple were credited under James P. Bonner, the last time they adopted the pen name. The couple reunited with Martin Ritt to write the screenplay for Conrack (1974), based on the autobiographical book The Water Is Wide, with Frank also working as producer. The film was commercially and critically well-received, winning a BAFTA award.[15] The couple wrote for an adaptation of the novel The Bank Robber, released as The Spikes Gang (also 1974). Around this time, Frank also wrote the novels Single: a novel (1977),[16] and Special Effects (1979).[17]

Later screenplays

Frank published one piece of science fiction, the novella "The Man from Saturn", in Amazing Stories in 1953
Frank published one piece of science fiction, the novella "The Man from Saturn", in Amazing Stories in 1953

Frank and Ravetch next project, Norma Rae (1979), was another collaboration with director Martin Ritt. The film tells the story of a factory worker from the Southern United States who becomes involved in labour union activities.[18] Unusually, for the couple, the film was based on a true story, that of Crystal Lee Jordan.[18] It was arguably their best received film,[19][20] winning numerous awards,[21][22] including two Academy Awards.[23][24]

Another six years passed before the couple's next filmed screenplay, this time for the romantic comedy Murphy's Romance (1985), based on a novel by Max Schott. They worked again with director Martin Ritt, their seventh project together, and with Sally Field, who played the titular lead role in Norma Rae. Despite Murphy's Romance being well-received (it was nominated for two Academy Awards), it was five years before another Frank and Ravetch screenplay was shot; hired by Martin Ritt, the couple wrote the screenplay for Stanley & Iris (1990), loosely based on the novel Union Street by British writer Pat Barker.[25][26]


Frank Jr. died at her home in Los Angeles on January 28, 2020, at age 96.[3]


Ten months after the release of Stanley & Iris, on December 8, 1990, Martin Ritt died. Together, the trio of Frank, Ravetch and Ritt had collaborated on eight films and achieved considerable successes.[25][27] As well as being the last film for Ritt, Stanley & Iris marked the end of Frank and Ravetch's writing careers.

In a career spanning 43 years and 21 film productions, Harriet Frank Jr. won four awards and received many nominations, sharing them all with her husband. As well as with her husband and Martin Ritt, Frank collaborated extensively with actors such as Paul Newman, writing for three of his film appearances (The Long, Hot Summer, Hud, and Hombre).


Year Film Notes
1947 A Really Important Person[5][6]
1948 Silver River[28]
1955 Ten Wanted Men[29] (story only)
Run for Cover[5][6] Alternative title: Colorado[30]
1958 The Long, Hot Summer[6]
1959 The Sound and the Fury[6]
1960 Home from the Hill[5][6]
The Dark at the Top of the Stairs[5][6]
1963 Hud[11]
Baby Makes Three[31] Television movie[31]
1967 Hombre[12]
1968 House of Cards[13] Credited as James P. Bonner[13]
1969 The Reivers[5] Alternative title: The Yellow Winton Flyer[32]
1972 The Cowboys[5]
The Carey Treatment[14] Credited as James P. Bonner[5]
Alternative titles: Emergency Ward[33]
1974 Conrack[15] Producer
The Spikes Gang[16]
1979 Norma Rae[18]
1985 Murphy's Romance[25]
1990 Stanley & Iris[25]
Year Title Notes
1965 The Long Hot Summer[34]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film
1964 Academy Award Nominated Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium Hud (Shared with Irving Ravetch)
1980 Norma Rae (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[11]
1973 Edgar Award Nominated Best Motion Picture The Carey Treatment[citation needed]
1980 Golden Globe Award Nominated Best Screenplay – Motion Picture Norma Rae (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[22]
1963 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Won Best Screenplay Hud (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[9]
1972 Western Heritage Awards Won Theatrical Motion Picture The Cowboys (Shared with cast and crew)[35]
1959 Writers Guild of America Award Nominated Best Written American Drama The Long Hot Summer (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[36]
1964 Won Best Written American Drama Hud (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[9]
1970 Nominated Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium The Reivers (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[37]
1975 Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium Conrack (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[38]
1980 Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium Norma Rae (Shared with Irving Ravetch)[39]
1988 Won Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement[40]


  1. ^ Haldeman, Peter (2017). "Move Over, Royal Tenenbaums: Meet the Mighty Franks". The New York Times. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Baer, pg. 95.
  3. ^ a b "Harriet Frank Jr., Writer of Challenging Screenplays, Dies at 96". The New York Times. January 28, 2020.
  4. ^ Barnes, Mike. "Harriet Frank Jr., Oscar-Nominated Screenwriter on 'Hud' and 'Norma Rae,' Dies at 96". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 29, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Harriet Frank Jr. profile". Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Baer, pg. 96.
  7. ^ "Hud Review". Channel 4. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  8. ^ AFI, p. 507
  9. ^ a b c Jill Nelmes; Jule Selbo (September 29, 2015). Women Screenwriters: An International Guide. Springer. pp. 787–. ISBN 978-1-137-31237-2.
  10. ^ Film Writers Directory. Lone Eagle. 2000. p. 422.
  11. ^ a b c "Academy Awards Database, Harriet Frank Jr". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved October 11, 2009.
  12. ^ a b AFI, p. 482
  13. ^ a b c AFI, p. 498
  14. ^ a b "Michael Chricton Biography". Retrieved November 27, 2009. A Case of Need was adapted as the film The Carey Treatment
  15. ^ a b "BAFTA Awards Past Winners 1975". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Single: a novel". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  17. ^ "Special effects". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 22, 2011.
  18. ^ a b c Niemi, p. 331.
  19. ^ "Norma Rae (1979)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  20. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 2, 1979). "'Norma Rae,' Mill-Town Story: Unionism in the South". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2009.
  21. ^ "New York Film Critics Circle 1979 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  22. ^ a b "Golden Globes "Norma Rae"". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  23. ^ "Academy Awards "Norma Rae"". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  24. ^ Niemi, p. 332.
  25. ^ a b c d Canby, Vincent (February 9, 1990). "Review/Film; Middle-Aged and Not Quite Middle Class". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  26. ^ Taitz, B Sonia (February 4, 1990). "'Stanley and Iris' Carries a Message of H-O-P-E". The New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  27. ^ Baer, p. 99
  28. ^ "'Silver River,' With Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan at Strand -- French Film in Bow". The New York Times. May 22, 1948. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  29. ^ Susan Avallone (1998). Film Writers Guide. Lone Eagle. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-943728-98-8.
  30. ^ Robert E. Carr; R. M. Hayes (1988). Wide Screen Movies: A History and Filmography of Wide Gauge Filmmaking. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-89950-242-7.
  31. ^ a b Richard Irvin (August 28, 2017). Film Stars' Television Projects: Pilots and Series of 50+ Movie Greats, 1948-1985. McFarland. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-4766-6916-8.
  32. ^ "The Reivers". Library of Congress.
  33. ^ Yoram Allon; Del Cullen; Hannah Patterson (2002). Contemporary North American Film Directors: A Wallflower Critical Guide. Wallflower Press. pp. 113–. ISBN 978-1-903364-52-9.
  34. ^ Peter Shelley (September 6, 2019). Joanne Woodward: Her Life and Career. McFarland. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-4766-3697-9.
  35. ^ Sandra Lee Stuart (March 1, 1980). Who won what when: the record book of winners. L. Stuart. ISBN 978-0-8184-0293-7.
  36. ^ Thomas O'Neil (2003). Movie Awards: The Ultimate, Unofficial Guide to the Oscars, Golden Globes, Critics, Guild & Indie Honors. Perigee Book. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-399-52922-1.
  37. ^ Thomas O'Neil (2003). Movie Awards: The Ultimate, Unofficial Guide to the Oscars, Golden Globes, Critics, Guild & Indie Honors. Perigee Book. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-399-52922-1.
  38. ^ Thomas O'Neil (2003). Movie Awards: The Ultimate, Unofficial Guide to the Oscars, Golden Globes, Critics, Guild & Indie Honors. Perigee Book. p. 372. ISBN 978-0-399-52922-1.
  39. ^ Thomas O'Neil (2003). Movie Awards: The Ultimate, Unofficial Guide to the Oscars, Golden Globes, Critics, Guild & Indie Honors. Perigee Book. p. 428. ISBN 978-0-399-52922-1.
  40. ^ "Norma Rae screenwriter Irving Ravetch dies aged 89". BBC News. September 22, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2020.


External links

This page was last edited on 23 May 2023, at 13:01
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